TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s idea for a new carbon offset scheme would complement an existing U.N. mechanism and make it easier for developing countries to access clean-energy technology from Japan, a senior climate envoy said on Wednesday.
Japan has pressed ahead with plans for bilateral deals in which it invests in clean energy projects in developing countries, in exchange for credits to meet part of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home.
The United Nations also runs a carbon offset scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), but it has been criticized for being too complex and rigid while taking too long to approve projects.
Many developing countries have already expressed interest in Japan’s proposed bilateral scheme, which would be more user-friendly than the CDM, said Kenji Hiramatsu, director-general for global issues at Japan’s foreign ministry.
“We are very mindful that this mechanism will contribute to, to complement the international carbon trading system,” Hiramatsu told a seminar hosted by a Japanese think tank.
“How it will be connected to the international system, or CDM system, we are in the process of discussing amongst ourselves but I am convinced that some mechanism should be made.”
Europe, whose emissions trading scheme dominates the global carbon market, is also looking at the possibility of bilateral offset deals, while the United States has also floated the idea of bilateral agreements.
But some countries may find it technically difficult to launch marked-based mechanisms outside the existing U.N. framework, the U.N.’s top climate official said.
“I’m not going to say it’s impossible but I think it’s very complicated to do that,” Christiana Figueres, the head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said in Tokyo this week, referring to mechanisms floated by Japan and the United States.
“It probably unnecessarily complicates the life of those countries. It would be possible but not easy to do. I don’t know if there would be political will either.”
Figueres, in Japan for an informal meeting of climate envoys from about 30 governments, added that limits on convertibility would lessen the appeal of such offsets when compared to globally traded carbon offsets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Hiramatsu said he was open to discussion on how to improve the CDM scheme.
“I understand some of the elements in the Kyoto Protocol should be incorporated in a new framework,” he said.
“We are very happy to engage in this kind of discussion, how to improve the CDM, which may incorporate some new ideas such as a bilateral offset mechanism or even a regional sort of mechanism of a carbon trading system.”
Editing by Michael Watson